Why brands should shut down Social Media Command Centers

A few years ago – last century actually –,  whenever you experienced a PC problem or a software bug and called an 800 number to the rescue, someone in a distant country would pick up the phone and answer: “Hello my name is Eddy. How can I help you today?”

Most of the time, you knew you’d just waste another 30 minutes talking to an under-payed offshore agent, sweating on his/her 100th call at the end of a long day.

2011. You still have problems with who knows… ATT: you  tweet for help and someone in a distant country tweets back, “@dominiq Hi my nam is Eddy, what can i do for u” …

The same people are now working for less than $3 per hour as Social Media Assistant (job postings like these are  just insane) with the same goal: Help you get rid of your problem and forget about you as quickly  as possible. Time is an expense.

This is clearly not the social web that most of us have been dreaming about and – I’m going to make a  statement –

if this is Social CRM then we (eCairn) will never ever do Social CRM.

Reasons for hope have come out lately. In the last weeks, two very important yet different organizations, the Pentagon and the New York Times, have departed from a centralized approach to social media:

In both cases, the move can be summarized as follows:

“management realized that they don’t need one manager being responsible for social media any more.  They have decided that it is the job of all …”

This clearly contrasts with the uber-centralized-tower-control-NSA approach we’ve seen with some major brands, like Dell and Gatorade, which are garnering a significant level of buzz in the social media community.

  • Brian Solis on Command Center , clearly taking side with this type of approach / organization.
  • Jeremy Owyang on Social CRM .  Jeremy’s points  (4,5) on Life Style content (versus support) and  Long term relationship are well taken. But the maths does not work:  6 people at Gatorade /millions of athletes,  what kind of relationships and trust can come out of this?

Going back to customer  support, i.e. CRM or Social CRM, I’m still wondering whether, as bigMETHOD suggests, this is something companies should not do at all, or whether this is just an evolution of what was called “peer support” in the last century, which they should facilitate.

During my (long) R&D years  at HP Support, “peer support” (i.e. the ability to find an answer by asking your neighbor) was always a source of healthy debate.  And yet, no one was really sure whether this time spent helping your co-workers was something that should be encouraged or whether it should be fought as invisible costs.

We never really reached any conclusion about that. We also did not have Twitter and Yammer at the time. One thing for sure, however, is that getting help from the guy/girl from the next cubicle was always a great social experience.

3 thoughts on “Why brands should shut down Social Media Command Centers

  1. Definitely want to clarify the blog post you linked to on our site.

    I was in no way, shape, or form recommending that companies should not do Social CRM at all. Quite the opposite. The post was simply raising the question of Why organizations are doing it. My intention was to suggest that doing SM-based customer service as a way to maximize efficiency and solve problems is brilliant. But to do it as a means to put out fires online so your reputation isn’t tarnished 140 characters at a time is a reckless position to take in 2011.

    Unequivocally I would recommend that every organization on earth use social media for customer service. With that comes the responsibility to do it for the right reasons, and doing so for appearances sake is not the right reason.


    1. @ john, Thanks for the clarification. I also recommend organizations to use social media for customer service. My point is just that this should be everybody’s job. Like Quality and Knowledge Sharing.
      Thanks for stopping by !

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